This is one of our most extraordinary mushrooms. Most people take one look at its sulphurous appearance (which is reflected in its scientific name, Laetiporus sulphureus) and assume it is toxic, but in fact it is an ideal species for the nervous beginner. This is because it is not only impossible to mistake, but it has a fantastic texture and flavour. It grows throughout the late spring and summer on deciduous trees, emerging anywhere from a few centimetres to many metres off the ground. At first it appears as bright yellow lumps, but these quickly swell and flatten to resemble a stack of yellow dinner plates. The commonest host is an oak, but it also parasitises willow, cherry and yew (I would avoid harvesting from the last as almost every part of the tree is poisonous). When young, it is usually light yellow in colour, gradually darkening to orange as it ages before fading to powdery white in the autumn. Pick while still bright yellow, for it toughens as it ages, becoming positively woody. While still young and tender it has a good flavour and texture (although nothing like chicken), making a prefect meat substitute in a variety of dishes (see the website recipe for chicken of the woods sate). One slight word of warning, however, although I have never known anyone having a bad reaction to this wonderful mushroom, I have recently been told it upsets some stomachs. It is therefore wise to cook it thoroughly on the first occasion and to eat a fairly small portion . . . but this advice goes for all species of wild fungi.